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Cyto-nuclear shuttling of afadin is required for rapid estradiol-mediated modifications of histone H3

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-162
Early online date27 Sep 2018
Accepted/In press25 Sep 2018
E-pub ahead of print27 Sep 2018
PublishedDec 2018


King's Authors


Estrogens have been shown to rapidly regulate local signalling at synapses and within the nucleus. The result of these signalling events is to rapidly modulate synapse structure and function, as well as epigenetic mechanisms including histone modifications. Ultimately these mechanisms are thought to contribute to long-lasting changes in neural circuitry, and thus influence cognitive functions such as learning and memory. However, the mechanisms by which estrogen-mediated local synaptic and nuclear signalling events are coordinated are not well understood. In this study we have found that the scaffold protein afadin, (also known as AF-6), undergoes a bi-directional trafficking to both synaptic and nuclear compartment in response to acute 17β-estradiol (estradiol) treatment, in mixed sex neuronal cultures derived from fetal cortex. Interestingly, nuclear accumulation of afadin was coincidental with an increase in the phosphorylation of histone H3 at serine 10 (H3S10p). This epigenetic modification is associated with the remodelling of chromatin into an open euchromatin state, allowing for transcriptional activation and related learning and memory processes. Critically, the cyto-nuclear trafficking of afadin was required for estradiol-dependent H3S10p. We further determined that nuclear accumulation of afadin is sufficient to induce phosphorylation of the mitogentic kinases ERK1/2 (pERK1/2) within the nucleus. Moreover, nuclear pERK1/2 was required for estradiol-dependent H3S10p. Taken together, we propose a model whereby estradiol induces the bi-directional trafficking of afadin to synaptic and nuclear sub-compartments. Within the nucleus, afadin is required for increased pERK1/2 which in turn is required for H3S10p. Therefore this represents a mechanism through which estrogens may be able to coordinate both synaptic and nucleosomal events within the same neuronal population.

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